Report On the International Defense Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS)
September 14-17, 2004, Karachi, Pakistan
A welcome relaxation in tension between India and Pakistan in mid-2004 has not included any reduction in their respective ambitious military modernization programs. Pakistan’s defense industries displayed their progress and welcomed current and prospective defense partners at their third bi-annual International Defense Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) from September 14 to 17, 2004. Held in Karachi, the show received very high attention from the Pakistani leadership and military. President Pervez Musharraf opened the event, and all the service chiefs were in attendance. This report benefits from interviews with many Pakistani military officers and corporate officials. The author is especially grateful for the insights of Pakistan Air Force Commander Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat.
During the show security was very tight with armed soldiers and police a constant sight. Karachi has a reputation for lawlessness and for violent extremist Islamist politics. Musharraf has already survived multiple assassination attempts. For even a simple short tourist excursion, this author’s hotel insisted that there be an escort of armed guards in a separate truck.
From the IDEAS show it was also possible to discern the very high priority Pakistan places on funding its military industries in a search for often illusive self reliance. To a great degree Pakistan will remain reliant on foreign sources for new high technology weaponry it deems necessary to match or deter India. Nevertheless, Pakistan has made great strides in building an indigenous armor production and naval combatant production capability, which for the most part has been based on foreign technology transfers. In low to medium technologies Pakistan seeks to export where possible, to include a new class of tactical unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. Pakistan also hopes to benefit from future export sales of its FC-1/JF-17 "Thunder" combat aircraft, in advanced co-development with China’s Chengdu Aircraft Co.
IDEAS was also a fair reflection of Pakistan’s international security politics. Both the Chinese and American defense industries had a large presence. The U.S. presence featured large contractors Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon. Both hope to sell new equipment to Pakistan as a consequence of warming U.S.-Pakistan relations, a consequence of Pakistani cooperation in prosecuting the War on Terror. Since the early 1990s most major American military sales to Pakistan had been on hold following sanctions related to its nuclear weapons program. India, which has also rapidly improved relations with Washington during the War on Terror, has sought vigorously to prevent new U.S. weapon sales to Pakistan.
All of China’s arms export companies had displays at IDEAS, befitting China’s role as Pakistan’s strategic guarantor. At IDEAS it was clear that Chinese-Pakistan conventional military cooperation was advancing. But in addition to its conventional weapon displays, China was also present in the form of its contribution to Pakistan’s nuclear capable missiles which the Pakistan Strategic Command put on display.
Pakistan’s Missile Progress
The Pakistan Army Strategic Forces Command has used the all of the IDEAS shows to display its nuclear capable missiles. The 2004 IDEAS show offered the only opportunity this year for Pakistan to publicly display its nuclear-capable missiles, as their appearance had been cancelled for the usual May military parade due to security concerns. This was also the first time for Pakistan to display its Ghaznavi short-range ballistic missile (SRBM). The solid-fueled Ghaznavi, and longer range Shaheen 1 and Shaheen 2 missiles are all widely reported to be based on Chinese missiles or Chinese missile technology. The Ghauri is widely reported to be based on the North Korean liquid-fueled Nodong missile. The Strategic Forces Command did not entertain questions about these missiles, but did offer a useful video which provided some new information, while also gathering together previously released missile test footage.
The most useful new data point offered by the video was that the Chinese-source missiles were capable of very high accuracy. Inasmuch Chinese sources have disclosed to the author in the mid-1990s their seeking to develop terminal guidance and satellite navigation assisted guidance system for its short to medium range missiles, it would follow that such technologies have been transferred to Pakistan. If Pakistan’s missiles are so equipped, that would raise the prospect of their not requiring nuclear warheads to achieve "strategic" results against military targets. While the prospect of non-nuclear options may be slightly comforting to some, this capability may also increase the temptation to use these missiles inasmuch as there might be a diminished the chance of nuclear retaliation.
Shaheen 2 Pakistan’s largest and most capable ballistic missile is the two-stage Shaheen 2, or Hatf 6. At this point it has no known counterpart in the Chinese missile arsenal, but is reported by the U.S. intelligence community to have been assisted by China. The IDEAS show very likely featured an operational example of this missile, which was only launched for the first time on March 9, 2004. This missile was also displayed without the second-stage guidance fins, which had been a feature on this missile first being displayed in 2000. Pakistani placards stated its range is 2,000km. While published sources give this missile accuracy measured in circular error probability (CEP) of 300m, a Pakistani video claims it is capable of "surgical precision." This may indicate that this missile incorporates a satellite navigation update system, which may indicate a CEP much less than 300m.
Shaheen 1 First revealed in 1999, the Shaheen 1, or Hatf 4, also has no known Chinese equivalent, but its Chinese origins are more apparent than the Shaheen 2. Its nose section is very clearly a copy of that seen on the Chinese DF-11 Mod 1 missile first revealed in their October 1999 military parade. But the Shaheen 1 is longer than the DF-11 Mod 1 and at 750km, very likely has a longer range. The warhead stage has what a Pakistani video calls a "post separation attitude correction system." This very likely refers to technology was first developed for the DF-15 SRBM. It consists of small thrusters which can adjust the warhead trajectory for the purpose of obtaining greater accuracy or for out-foxing early U.S. Patriot PAC-2 missile interceptors.
Ghaznavi The latest missile to be adopted by Pakistan is their Ghaznavi, or Hatf 3. It was formally adopted by the Strategic Forces Command on February 22, 2004. This missile appears to be an exact copy of the latest version of the DF-11 Mod 2. Like more recent versions of the Chinese missile, the Ghaznavi employs an "aerospike" on tip of the nose cone. This serves to push away air, creating less aerodynamic drag for the remainder of the missile. This is also useful for extending the range of the missile if it employed a "depressed trajectory" or low altitude flight profile, where denser air would create more drag. The DF-11 Mod 2 is also suspected of using a "depressed trajectory" in order to evade missile defenses. A Pakistani video also notes this missile employs a "post separation attitude correction system" to ensure high warhead accuracy. The missile also features flat antenna arrays near the warhead stage, all indications that it employs highly accurate satellite navigation assisted guidance systems. And like the DF-11 Mod 1, the Ghaznavi very likely employs a range of warheads, to include nuclear, high explosives, cluster munitions, and thermobaric warheads.
Ghauri Also on display was the Ghauri, or Hatf 5, widely reported to be based on North Korea’s Nodong liquid fueled missile. It has a range of 1,500km which it can cover in about 10 minutes. It is said to be armed with nuclear and high explosive warheads.
Possible Missile Defenses Pakistani sources interviewed before the IDEAS show, as well as some recent published information, indicates that Pakistan’s leadership is very interested in obtaining a limited missile defense capability, especially to match any prospective Indian missile defenses that could be obtained from Israel or the U.S. This impression was confirmed by sources interviewed at the IDEAS show, while there was general reluctance to discuss the details of any future missile defense system. Published sources indicate that Pakistan is considering the purchase of a new active-guided version of the Chinese FT-2000 surface-to-air missile (SAM). In 1998 Chinese sources disclosed to the author that this SAM, originally designed with a passive seeker intended to attack electronic warfare aircraft, would eventually feature an active-guidance system that would have an anti-tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) capability. In 2003 the FT-2000A was disclosed in a Malaysian defense journal, complete with a new active phased-array radar for long-range missile guidance. The FT-2000 program is believed to stem from the HQ-9 program, which in turn has been described to the author as having benefited from Russian S-300 and U.S. Patriot PAC-2 SAM technology. In an ATBM mode, the FT-2000A might only be useful against short-range Indian missiles like the Prithvi or Dhanush, not against longer-range and thus faster Agni missiles.
Pakistan Air Force Programs
F-16 Revival Pakistan is pursuing an advanced fighter acquisition program that it hopes will include the Lockheed Martin F-16 plus one other advanced fighter. Sourced noted that Pakistan is well into discussions with Washington to obtain MLU level upgrades for its existing F-16s. Such upgrades would allow its 32 F-16A/B Block 15 fighters to be able to employ modern beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missiles and precision guided munitions (PGMs). During a press conference at the show, Pakistan Air Force Commander Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat noted that Pakistan would like 70 more F-16s. But so far, Pakistan has sent a "Letter of Request" to the U.S. for 18 F-16s. This move conveys some confidence of gaining approval, a sure sign of how U.S.-Pakistan relations have improved since the War on Terror. Kaleem said that the PAF would prefer the Block 52 model and a commensurate weapons package, to include AMRAAM BVR AAMs and JDAM. Other sources note that if finances do not allow for additional Block 52s, Pakistan it may purchase used older-model F-16s.
JF-17 Thunder The cooperative FC-1/JF-17 "Thunder" fighter development program between China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex is proceeding rapidly. After its first flight in August 2005, three flying prototypes have been built. Pakistan expects to freeze it serial production configuration by late 2005, begin initial domestic production(eight fighters) in 2006 and move to serial production by 2007, starting at a rate of 5 to 6 a year, growing to 15 or 20 a year. A growing prospect for export orders, such as to Egypt or Iran, might serve to justify a high production rate. Pakistan has an initial requirement for 150 of the JF-17 version.
Currently the program advancing in two areas: flight testing and avionics integration. The later has entailed a considerable competition between several radar manufacturers. Since early in this program it was assumed that Pakistan and China would pursue different radar options, with the Italian Griffo being tipped as Pakistan’s likely choice, following on its selection for its Chengdu J-7PG fighters. However, Pakistani officials now disclose that a Chinese radar and avionics package will equip the first 50 JF-17s. China has taken a multi-mode radar developed for the Chengdu J-10 fighter and developed a smaller version, which a Pakistani official says, "have met our requirements—we have not lowered out requirements." These officials note that JF-17 fire control system will only need to support two simultaneous beyond-visual-range (BVR) target engagements. China success in selling its radar/avionics system to Pakistan is a sure indication of China’s rapid advance in mastering advanced fighter radar technologies. It also bodes well for the FC-1’s entry into the Chinese Air Force, which is expected by Pakistani officials.
Air Chief Marshal Kaleem also noted that Pakistan and China will build a two-seat FJ-17/FC-1 version for training, about the same time serial production begins. It will feature a lengthened fuselage and will be fully combat-capable. Despite China’s ability to offer up to up four other advanced training aircraft that are either in production, or in advanced development (JL-9, JL-15, J-10B, JJ-7), Pakistan prefers to build a two-seat version of the JF-17 for efficiency and commonality sake. It is also noted that during many missions a two-man crew is more successful than a single man crew.
Growing Interest In China’s J-10 ACM Kaleem Sadat also noted that following from Pakistan’s traditional policy of diversifying its combat aircraft sources, it will also seek an additional advanced fighter. As has been reported, Kaleem noted that Pakistan is in deep discussions with SAAB about acquiring the JAS-39 Gripen multi role fighter. He said that Pakistan will soon send pilots to test fly Chengdu’s J-10 multi-role fighter, noting it is "superior to any platform the Chinese have made so far," and that it is "to be the mainstay of the Chinese Air Force." This makes Pakistan now the most promising export prospect for the J-10.
In China the J-10 is in advanced testing for both its single-seat and twin-seat versions. Russian sources have estimated that over the program’s lifetime China could purchase up to 1,200 J-10s. It is often described as being about as capable as a F-16 Block 30, but that is likely an understatement. Its "canard" wing configuration very likely makes more maneuverable than the F-16 in most combat scenarios. At the IDEAS show the CATIC export arm distributed a new brochure for the active-radar guided Louyang PL-12/SD-10, which indicated this missile would be supported by a new radar capable of processing four simultaneous engagements. This very likely corresponds to the capability of the J-10’s radar/fire control system. The J-10 is also expected to feature a helmet-sighting system and the ability to use PGMs.
Erieye Advances Pakistan’s recent progress in obtaining airborne radar, specifically Sweden’s Ericsson Erieye phased array airborne radar, is the product of a twelve year effort by the Pakistan Air Force. Revealed just this past summer, negotiations are now proceeding apace and contract negotiations are expected to conclude in 2005. Delivery may begin two years later. Less clear is what platform will carry the Erieye. Sources note that the PAF would like the SAAB 2000 turboprop airliner but for budgetary reasons would prefer that this regional liner also be purchased by Pakistan International Airlines, which at this point is opting for the less expensive DeHaviland Dash-8.
No other Erieye user employs the S-2000 platform. At the show SAAB displayed a new model of and Erieye-equipped S-2000 with new wing-tip mounted electronic sensor measure (ESM) pods. This level of Erieye integration into the S-2000 may mean that SAAB’s offering to Pakistan may be at a more advanced development stage.
Super Mushshak Sale The Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, part of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, will sell four more Super Mushshak MSK-17-1 training aircraft to the Uni Holding Group in South Africa. One was delivered in August. The MSK-17 is a co-produced version of the SAAB MS-17 training and Army cooperation aircraft. It can carry three passengers or light payloads on wing mounts.
Air Weapons The PAF is also looking for an advanced weapons package to accompany its new advanced fighters. It expects that AMRAAM and JDAM will part of a future F-16 sale, and also expects that either European or Chinese advanced weapons will accompany a potential JAS-39 or J-10 purchase. But in the meantime Pakistan is also trying to develop its own advanced aircraft weapons. Some reports mention a project called "H-4," which appears to be a long-range precision guided bomb. Some sources speculate that South Africa’s 300km range MUPSOW or Torgos turbojet powered cruise missile may be the template for the H-4, while another source speculates it has a range of 120km. The smaller South African Raptor may be the basis for the "H-2" guided bomb has a range of 60km. Pakistani officials say this weapon is in service. Regarding air-to-air weapons, Pakistani officials noted their current commitment to active-guided BVR missiles. They noted a previous attempt to develop a semi-active guided AAM, but had discarded this program. Other recent reports note after long doubts that this program had succeeded, that China did develop a semi-active guided missile during the 1990s called the PL-11 that was based on captured U.S. and purchased Italian AAMs.
Pakistan Navy Programs
Submarines Pakistan is to build three French Agosta 90-B submarines. The first two have been built, while the third, now being built, is expected to incorporate the French MESMA advanced air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. This system uses Argon gas to clean diesel exhaust, which allows the diesel engines to recharge the submarine’s batteries. Under optimal conditions it could allow the submarine to remain underwater for about two weeks. Pakistani officers were willing to comment that the two Agosta 90-B submarines offer decisive advantages over the Indian Navy’s Russian Kilo submarines. They claim the Agosta has acoustic advantages over the Kilo and is able to detect the Indian submarine well before counter-detection. Pakistani Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Shahid Karimullah told a press conference that Pakistan intends to purchase more submarines in the future, and is open to European and even Chinese designs. The China Shipbuilding Corporation displayed a picture of its Type 039A conventional submarine but declined to comment on its capabilities.
Chinese Frigates Admiral Shahid also stated that Pakistan was committed to co-producing four new frigates of a Chinese design. They will be built in Pakistan. However, this deal was also dependent on Pakistan securing a $750 million loan from China, which at the time had not been settled. This program is expected to last 13 years. The frigates, designated the F 22P, are based on the Chinese Jiangwei-II design, but feature a far cleaner superstructure. These ships displace 2,500 tons and will have a top speed of 29 knots. Models of the ship indicate thus far, it will be armed with up to 8x C-802 size anti-ship missiles, the HHQ-7 short-range anti-aircraft missile, twin 100mm main guns, 2x 30mm Russian-designed gattling guns for anti-missile protection, and one Z-9 anti-submarine helicopter. The Pakistan Navy is also interested in building a larger 3,000 ton frigate. When asked weather Pakistan would be more interested in the newer stealthy Chinese Type 054 frigates, the common reply was that the F 22P program was already well along and the Type 054s are also more expensive.
Z-9EC To PN Admiral Shahid also stated that as part of a prospective deal to purchase four F-22 frigates, the Pakistan Navy (PN) will purchase Harbin Z-9 anti-submarine helicopters. The overall deal, however, remains dependent on Pakistan securing a $750 loan from China. Pakistan will purchase four helicopters initially, plus one or two spares. Pakistan has yet to decide on an avionics and combat systems package. This will mark the first foreign sale for a type that has only seen limited service in the Chinese Navy. At the show a CATIC official said that the naval version of the Z-9 is called the Z-9EC. In PLA Navy service, the Z-9EC is equipped with a nose-mounted radar, a dipping sonar and can carry one anti-submarine torpedo.
Armor Pakistan’s Army has invested considerable resources in the development of modern armored combat systems. The Pakistan Army’s tank fleet is divided between those of Chinese, Ukrainian and U.S. origin. The most modern tank now being produced by Pakistan is its Al Khalid, a cooperative venture with China and the Ukraine. Based largely on the Chinese MBT-2000 tank, it uses a Chinese hull and turret design, a 125mm smooth bore gun and a diesel engine from the Ukraine. The tank is also armed with a gun-launched laser-guided anti-tank missile of Ukrainian origin. Pakistan is now in the process of modifying this missile to take a larger warhead.
Pakistan also manufactures a series of tracked armored personnel carriers (APCs) based largely on the U.S. M-113 APC family. A new command version of this family, called the SAKB, introduces new digital communications technologies to the armor fleet, called the "Integrated Battle Management System." The prototype was apparently on display at the show, and featured new flat-panel displays in the vehicle. These were able to link with digital flat panel displays in the Al Khalid tank, exchanging tank video footage, or receiving intelligence from unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) or from rear areas.
UAVs The Pakistan Army may take delivery of a new family of tactical UAVs within the next 24 months, with two companies trying to win the program. Both companies are using "off the shelf" components like engines and seekers, and the winner will likely be the one able to prove superior system integration. The Integrated Defense Systems H-2 has a 130kg maximum take-off weight and an endurance of 6 to 7 hours. The Air Weapons Complex’s Vision-1 weighs 120kg and has an endurance of over 5 hours. Pakistan hopes to sell these UAVs to friendly countries, such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Significant Chinese Presence
Befitting their status as one of Pakistan’s major strategic guarantors, the Chinese had a large formal presence at IDEAS, in addition to their secondary contribution thru cooperative missile, aircraft and armor. Export companies present included CATIC (aircraft); CMEIPC (tactical missiles); China Shipbuilding (submarines, warships); and GEIEC (radar and C4ISR systems). These firms displayed a wide array of products, some for the first time. While undoubtedly open and responsive to their local customer, most of these firms were non-responsive to most inquiries. Nevertheless, some of the Chinese officials were willing to answer detailed questions, and even enquire about the conduct of foreign arms sales in the West. This may reflect recognition by some of these firms that the large a bloated Chinese defense sector is not sustainable over the long term, and those firms which can export may have a better chance of survival. Norinco spokesmen were especially helpful in answering questions. Some useful points are as follows.
New IFV In early 2003 China revealed a new tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) that featured the gun and missile launching turret from the Russian BMP-3. It was a long awaited replacement for a series of obsolete tracked APCs in the PLA Army. It is a novel amphibious design which employs the combined 100mm and 30mm cannon turret of the Russian BMP-3 APC. It can fire a 100mm laser guided anti-tank missile with a 5.5km range that can also shoot down helicopters. Norinco says this new vehicle is now in production for the PLA, and that it will also co-produce the Russian BMP-3 turret.
Wheeled Fighting Vehicles For about three years the PLA has been evaluating a new class of wheeled fighting vehicles. Two factories under Norinco have developed similar families of 6 and 8-wheeled vehicles, armed with 105mm and 120mm guns. These vehicles present the PLA with new power-projection options as their light weight means more can be carried by sea and airborne transports. Their main difference was in their choice of hull. Once company used a hull based on the WZ551 family of APC, which has a front-mounted engine, while the other uses a unique hull design with the engine in the rear of the hull. The latter offered a lower profile and thus had stability advantages over the former. Perhaps for the first time a Norinco spokesman disclosed that the PLA has chosen one of these families and will be putting them into service. The chosen family is that based on the widely used WZ551 APC family. Norinco is also now marketing this version. It appears that the cost and logistic advantages of proceeding with the proven APC design swayed the PLA’s choice. To compensate for their light armor, they will be armed with a co-produced version of the Russian Bastion gun-launched, laser-guided anti-tank missile. Its 5km range is greater than that of most conventional tank gun rounds.
Larger Security Implications of the IDEAS Show
The IDEAS show illustrates the range of Pakistan’s security concerns. While increasingly involved with the United States in the War Against Terror, Islamabad is also very mindful of its long-standing rivalry with India. Indeed, while Pakistan is in some cases for the first time contesting control of distant areas near the Afghan border which long have been a refuge for Al Qaeda and its sympathizers, its growing economy is also being used to supply greater funds for nuclear and conventional armaments.
The substantial resources being devoted to its nuclear deterrent was make very clear at IDEAS. By early 2004 Pakistan had started testing its most powerful missile, the 2,000km range solid-fueled Shaheen 2. It had also adopted into service the very effective Ghaznavi, which can deliver a range of non-nuclear payloads with very high accuracy. The possible accuracy of the Chinese-influenced missiles like the Shaheen 1, Shaheen 2 and Ghaznavi raise the prospect of Pakistan being able to perform "strategic" strikes against key military nodes without recourse to nuclear warheads. This may raise their value in any conflict with India for which Islamabad may seek to avoid escalation to a nuclear exchange. Other reports note that Pakistan may be developing even longer range versions of its Shaheen 2 and the North Korean Nodong-based Ghauri missile.
This raises the key U.S. concern of proliferation. A "Ghauri-3" may in the future benefit from North Korea’s new generation storable liquid-fuel missile based on the Russian Makeyev R-27 IRBM. In addition, China’s outright sale of the DF-11 Mod 1 to Pakistan demonstrates once more Beijing’s contempt for U.S. proliferation concerns. The Ghaznavi introduces a SRBM far more sophisticated than Indian SRBMs. It is also clear that China will continue to assist Pakistan’s ability to manufacture the 2,000km range Shaheen 2, another example of Chinese contempt for U.S. non-proliferation concerns and of Beijing’s contempt for international missile control efforts. More recently, Pakistan may be moving ahead with the purchase of a new Chinese anti-tactical ballistic missile system if only to be ready to match any prospective Indian purchase of the Israeli Arrow, or U.S. Patriot PAC-3.
Islamabad is using the fact that it can afford new jet fighters, plus its growing cooperation with Washington, to leverage new more modern F-16s from the U.S. But perhaps a larger decision for Washington will be whether to sell Pakistan the modern air-to-air and precision-guided munitions which give these aircraft their cutting-edge capabilities. After nuclear-related sanctions were lifted in late 2001, Washington has been slow to warm to new major weapon sales to Pakistan, and the F-16 sale is especially sensitive to India. In a larger sense, India’s Air Force has more modern and better equipped Russian Su-30 fighters, which have better AAMs and PGMs than does Pakistan. But Delhi would naturally oppose any upgrading in Pakistan’s ability to threaten its control of the air. However, if Washington balks then Pakistan will place greater priority on obtaining a European advanced multi-role fighter, very likely Sweden’s JAS-39 Gripen, or China’s J-10. Both sources would very likely supply the requisite advanced AAMs and PGMs comparable to that used by the Indian Air Force.
For India, the IDEAS show demonstrates Pakistan’s determination to sustain what it calls a "minimum deterrent" against its long-time rival. While diplomatic dialogue between the new Congress Party-led government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan have yielded a welcome thaw in tensions, this will not be enough to lead to any significant mutual reductions in military spending. In terms of numbers and in may cases, quality, India maintains a military edge over Pakistan. But Pakistan also seeks to vigorously sustain some parity, as evidence with its purchase of the Swedish Erieye AWACS system. One area of possible Pakistani superiority over India is in its Chinese origin SRBMs, which may be capable of far greater accuracy than Indian SRBMs. This combined with Pakistan’s growing interest in Chinese ATBMs may present a diplomatic opportunity: would it be possible to "limit" some categories of offensive ballistic missiles with their usefulness being degraded by the purchase of missile defense systems?
The IDEAS show also produced implications for the Taiwan Strait. The revelation of the Ghaznavi/DF-11 Mod 1 shows that the PLA is building a SRBM with the ability to possibly evade the missile defenses that Taiwan has yet to obtain. The surprise revelation that Pakistan’s requirements for advanced radar for its JF-17 will initially be met by China serves to illustrate the rapid progress in China’s aircraft radar and avionics sector. This indicates that China’s J-10 radar and fire control system will be able to fire active-guided AAMs during simultaneous engagements, matching that of Taiwan’s F-16 fighters. This might not be such bad news were it not the case that China will be building hundreds more J-10s than Taiwan’s 200+ F-16 and Mirage 2000 fleet. It would also impact adversely on Taiwan’s security if China decided to purchase large numbers of the multirole Chengdu FC-1 fighter, as a less expensive replacement for it hundreds of older J-7 fighters.
In addition, the revelations by Norinco that PLA armored forces may soon be equipped with a new and more powerful amphibious Infantry Fighting Vehicle, and a new family of wheel fighting vehicles, serves to increase the PLA’s growing threat of actual invasion. In particular the new family of wheeled fighting vehicles could be transported in larger numbers by China’s sea and air transport assets—which will be supplemented by access to a very large "civilian" sea and air fleet. Wheeled fighting vehicles will also be better able to use Taiwan excellent road network to achieve rapid advancement after securing an initial landing area and breaking through Taiwanese defenses.